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The Rangers returned Sunday afternoon, with an ungodly 12:30pm start. Normally I don’t mind these afternoon games if I’m attending them, but since I’ve been sleep deprived of late, setting the alarm for 11:30 was rough. Even worse, waking up at 7am and not being able to fall asleep because I didn’t want to oversleep the game wasn’t a walk in the park!
The early afternoon games are fun if you’re there, but I prefer hockey at night. However, with the NFL Conference Championship games on later in the afternoon, I understand why this game was on so early. With hockey, football and UFC at night, it’s been a hell of a day for sports.
The Rangers & Penguins both played on Friday night. The Rangers picked up a win over a division opponent, defeating the Blue Jackets on the road, 2-1. The Penguins got destroyed by the Islanders, at the dump in Nassau, with a 6-3 final, which in turn, gave the Islanders first place in the Metropolitan Division.
With both teams playing Friday night on the road, the Rangers & Penguins met for the fourth and final time of the season in Pittsburgh. The end result was the Rangers finishing 3-0-1 against the once feared Penguins. Even the shootout loss the Rangers suffered to the Pens, the Rangers had a Dan Boyle goal overturned. The NHL brought both teams back on the ice, from the locker room, to replay the shootout. If you include the last 3 games of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Rangers are now 6-0-1 against that cunt Crosby and his merry band of pussies.
The Rangers beat the Penguins on Sunday, with a final score of 5-2. It was the second time the Rangers put up 5 goals against the Pens, with four of the goals coming before the 10 minute mark in the second period. Fleury, an All-Star, was quickly pulled by Pens coach Mike Johnston. The biggest thing to come out of this win is that the Rangers are now third place in the Metropolitan division and are two points away from second place with one game in hand. If the season ended today, the Rangers would face the Penguins in the playoffs.
For whatever reason, just like how Boston matches up against the Rangers, the Rangers have had the Pens number. As we get further down the stretch, it should be interesting to see how the Rangers play it out. There is no question that this team is a playoff team. However, I would not want to face the Islanders or Bruins in the first round. It would benefit the Rangers to see the Penguins or Capitals in the first round of the playoffs. Get those games under the belt, then be primed for a major showdown. However, I’m getting way ahead of myself.
What a difference a HEALTHY Rick Nash makes. I said this in the beginning of the season (Check the archives if you don’t believe me) but I felt that Nash would become the Nash of Columbus this year. This was the first season Nash was 100% with the Rangers. Being from the pro wrestling world and knowing people who have had them, concussions are no joke. Nash didn’t take much time off when he was suffering through them. Like most injuries, the only thing that cures a concussion is time off. With the high pressure of signing a big deal with the Rangers and expectations at a premier level, Nash rushed back.
Nash, this season, who had a shortened off-season, due to the deep Rangers playoff run, has been the Rick Nash, the Rangers hoped for, when they acquired him right before the last lockout. Due to scoring two goals in this game, Nash moved into a tie for first, for most goals in the NHL, at 28.
Nash has been a beast this year, especially on the breakaway. You almost wonder if something is wrong when he doesn’t score on a breakaway. He’s been lighting lamps all season via the one on one match-up. When Nash scored, less than 30 seconds into this game, it took some air out of the Pens fans, which was huge in front of this sell-out crowd.
Brassard quickly followed up Nasher’s goal, less than 6 minutes later, putting the Rangers up 2-0, giving the Rangers one of those dreaded two goal leads, perhaps the worst lead to have in all of the NHL. Just seems that once it’s 2-1, the other team has the momentum and is destined to win it.
This game was very sloppy on both sides. Each team were taking penalties left and right and the special team units were in full force for both squads. The Rangers, who just came off killing two penalties took another penalty, after a Chris Kreider interference call. Kreider needs to be careful, as this season progresses, because he’s being watched. He has the reputation for playing dirty now and the refs will call any tacky call against him.
Crosby made the Rangers pay, though no fault to Henrik Lundqvist. Perron made a cross ice pass, that went by 3 defenders, landed on Crosby’s stick, while all Ryan McDonagh could do is watch as Crosby just had to tap it past the goal line. I really hate that punk ass bitch. It’s really amazing the shit Crosby gets away with, from spearing people, slamming his stick against the glass, cursing out referees, and he never gets called for any of it. I hope Zhedo Chara punches his lights out one day.
With the Rangers leading 2-1 after the first, you had to be happy with a lead on the road. However, the Pens were getting very aggressive, with Hank being tested time and time again. However, the Rangers tested 2015 All-Start, Marc-Andre Fleury. There was no power behind that flower and Fleury failed the test.
Nash got the scoring started in the second, after taking a pass from Brassard. We were back to the dreaded 2 goal lead once again. Derek Stepan, who is an interesting Ranger, as I mentioned in previous articles, due to his upcoming free agency & the fact he has been injury prone, made his case about why he is valuable to this team. Stepan followed Nash’s goal by adding a powerplay goal pushing the score to 4-1, before the ten minute mark in the second period. Fleury was quickly pulled after that.
Perron would go on to score in the third period, by putting a puck right between the legs of Henrik Lundqvist. A bad goal for Hank to let up, but he’s lucky the Rangers scored 5 for him. Hank looked like a cheap hooker with his legs spread open. I guess he was expecting something else. It was announced after the game that he hurt his hand, so obviously, I would start Talbot the next two games. Give Hank the rest. With the All-Star break coming this Saturday, the Rangers take on Ottawa on Tuesday. Let Hank take the extended break. After the ASG, the Rangers take on the Islanders. The Islanders have made Hank their personal bitch this season. I’d start Talbot there, then let Hank take the reigns after that.
Stepan would answer Perron’s goal, joining Nash with two goals a piece, giving the Rangers a 5-2 victory.
Obviously, the Rangers aren’t going to score 5 goals a game. However, you want to see some consistency through each game. As a whole, the Rangers looked good. They won more faceoffs than they have been. They didn’t make as many turnovers. The passing was crisp. The powerplay was excellent. The penalty kill was ok, but there was no reason that pass from Perron should’ve ever reached Crosby’s stick, ever so neatly. Hank has been playing better as of late, even with the bad goal to Perron. That would’ve been a killer goal if the score was tied. When you have 5 goals on the board, you tend to overlook a goal like that.
I’ve been saying it all season, Brassard & Stepan need to shoot more. When they do, good things happen. It always seems like they try to find the extra pass, and it never works out. Poor Mats Zuccarello. He must be hearing the sound of a puck hitting the post in his sleep. Zucc and Hagelin both found posts this game. The post has been showing up a lot during the last 4 games.
On the defensive front, McDonagh had two mental farts, one was the Crosby goal and the other was being slow to the puck. Luckily Dom Moore made the save for the Captain.
Speaking of Captains, happy 54th birthday to Mark Messier.
The Rangers return Tuesday to take on Ottawa at home. All Star Weekend runs Friday-Sunday. Rangers then return 1/27 for a clash at the dumpy Coliseum, before returning home to take on Montreal on Thursday, 1/29 and then closing off January on 1/31 with the Hurricanes. As I said above, I’d let Talbot start the next two games, especially with a hand injury to Hank and the fact the Islanders have raped Hank like they are Bill Cosby.
I’ll be back Tuesday night for Ottawa/Rangers recap.
The Superbowl is officially set, with the Patriots taking on the Seahawks, come 2/1 in Glendale, Arizona. A few random thoughts and opinions on the biggest sports game of the year:
– Not for nothing, but check the archives. I predicted this would be the Superbowl during Week 9. I also backed up that prediction again at the start of the playoffs. The only playoff game I missed was Denver losing to Indy.
– Two back-to-back years with two number 1 seeds going at it. That’s what you really want anyway. Did anyone really want to see a Panthers vs Bengals Superbowl?
– If Brady & Belichick can win this Superbowl, to me they will be the greatest of all time in every category. Best QB ever. Best coach ever. Best tandem ever. This is their 6th Superbowl. They can match Noll/Bradshaw with four here. Then add in the fact they been to two other Superbowls, had a perfect regular season and are doing this all in the salary cap & free agency era, there is no way to deny you’ve witnessed the best.
– Belichick & Brady must be all smiles that they don’t have to see the Giants in Glendale again. A win over the Seahawks would also shut-up all the spygate people.
– For Seattle, this could be their last time at the big game for a while. They will lose a lot of players due to free agency and the salary cap in the off-season. It really sucks that the NFL punishes teams for winning. Seahawks did everything right, drafted well, made good pick-ups and built up a strong unit. Why should they be punished for that? The NFL should really install some provision in the cap that if you have a homegrown guy, he doesn’t 100% count against the cap. But this is business. The NFL wants all the madness, it’s more money.
– As a Jets hater, this is just a great Superbowl for me. You got two ex-Jets head coaches. One that was fired after a season and the other who wanted no part of the laughingstock franchise after one day. Add in you got Revis on the Pats, it’s just pure misery for the Jets. This is great news!
– Seahawks beat the Pats in Week 6 of the regular season. If anything, that favors the Patriots. They don’t lose twice to same team often. Remember, this was the same team that people were writing off after that Monday Night game with KC.
– As far as a prediction, I really see the Patriots blowing Seattle out. I don’t think it happens right away. Just like this AFC Title game, I think it happens after the half. Belichick is the best adjustment coach in the league. Once he sees what Seattle is throwing at him in the first half, come half-time, even if the Patriots are losing, he’ll have a battle plan. It’s been the story of his career.
– If you’re betting on the big game, always go by this – who has the better QB? Gotta go with Brady. It’s also very tough to win back-to-back Superbowls in the free agency/cap era. Last team to do so? The Patriots.
– Rex Ryan should be forced to kiss Belichick’s rings, win or lose. It can’t be any worse than sucking toes.
– With no football for the first time in 20 weeks, next weekend should still be fun. You got the NHL ASG festivities, WWE Royal Rumble and FRANCESACON!
UFC, after a 2014 that saw many stars go down with injuries or personal problems, got some good news on Sunday night, with Connor McGregor defeating Dennis Siver in the second round of their fight. McGregor is very cocky, talks a ton of shit, but most importantly, backs it up. The UFC has a bright new star.
When UFC is hot, it makes you really shake your head at the WWE. UFC is doing all basic pro wrestling principles to promote fights. McGregor talked shit. He won. McGregor then jumps the cage and gets into the Jose Aldo’s face and challenges him for his title. Of course you want to see that fight now.
McGregor, whose stock went up the most tonight, wasn’t the only one to score points and make the most out of their minutes. Donald Cerrone defeated long-time rival, Benson Henderson in a super-close fight. I thought Henderson had it, but happy to see Cerrone win. Cerrone, who does a Cowboy gimmick, took this fight on 12 days notice. With the win, he should be rewarded with a title shot, although he might have to win one more fight to get it. However, how can any fan of the sport not appreciate a guy fighting twice in 12 days? What it also tells me is that he probably has money problems too.
Uriah Hall, who has been around MMA for a while, got a big win, downing Ron Stallings in the first round. It was a bad ass whooping, as the fight was stopped due to excessive cuts to the face of Stallings. Hall, fighting in front of a primarily white crowd in Boston, then cut a promo putting over NYPD, white/black race relations and urged for everyone to get along. I mean, this wasn’t Rocky IV with Stallone ending the Cold War or anything, but it was from the heart, didn’t come off forced and I respected the guy much more afterwards.
As far as the show as a whole, the problem with these free shows is that you’re due for some stinkers. However, at least you’re not paying $60 bucks for it, like the awful Jones/Cormier PPV card. This was a great show and a great show for the sport, as several characters advanced their careers.
One thing the UFC should try to do on these little free shows is try to book some “squash” fights. One of the things that was great about Strikeforce was that the shows usually went two hours, you got some big name fights and you got some severe thrashings. You need those quick KO’s on a show to get people amped. No one wants a three hour plus, show full of decisions where all the fights were men laying on top of other men, while fighting for position. Maybe the purists, homosexuals and female fans do, but the casual viewer wants action.
Overall, it was a great show. Aldo vs McGregor is going to some big business.
I’ll be back late Tuesday/early Wednesday.
Until then, LETS GO RANGERS
@nycthemic on the twitter gimmick